As a child, I am sure that I was one of those students who exhibited some of the symptoms of Spring Fever. Though I loved learning and school, as summer holidays came close, I could barely wait to get outside and engage in unfettered, active play for as many hours of the day as possible. Over the past several years, as an educator, I have experienced Spring Fever from a different vantage point.
COVID-19 has impacted our children’s ability to engage in unfettered, unrestricted play outside.
Reflecting on how I would have responded as a young child to being unable to play in a park with my childhood friends, I recognize the impact this news would have had on my own joyful disposition.
There are numerous factors that may impact whether or not a child experiences Spring Fever.
For many children, their response to being unable to explore nature during the spring season with friends may appear in a multitude of ways – restlessness, unbridled energy, or even lethargy. In some cases, Spring Fever is actually a child’s response to allergies. A child with allergies may feel very lethargic and tired. This may present itself as being disoriented or lacking in concentration. The onset of this sort of behaviour, especially if coupled with itchy eyes, headaches or the sniffles, should be seen as a cue to check with your pediatrician regarding allergies or, unfortunately, COVID-19.
Alternatively, many children tend to experience growth spurts in the spring, resulting in challenges in sensory and motor integration that create confusion or frustration in terms of body awareness. These challenges may appear to adults as anger, tears for no reason, a defeatist attitude in physical tasks, or clumsiness. Explaining the situation, extra support, and managing short term physical expectations can assist a child in the midst of a growth spurt.
Changes in the weather from season to season may create disruptions in routine.
We are all sensitive to routine to some degree, and for many children, the rapid, day-to-day changes in weather can be a real challenge. Adults and early childhood educators working together to keep routines as normal as possible and providing activities that are highly engaging will be helpful. Similarly, for younger children, changing from winter clothing to summer clothing can disrupt their sense of routine. Keeping children’s clothing preferences in mind as you make the switch to summer clothes is an important consideration.
Another factor that may contribute to erratic behavior in some students is the stress they associate with summer holidays. Worrying about changes to routine, large blocks of unstructured time, and travel to new and unusual places can create behavior changes in some children. Taking time to listen to a child’s concerns about any aspect of summer holidays and helping to provide support can alleviate stress.
In general, adults and children tend to behave the way they do for a reason. Understanding the reasons behind a particular behavior is important. Thinking about why a child may appear to be out of sorts allows parents and early childhood educators to provide more effective support.
As an aside, some of the same issues that impact children this time of year can impact adults, thus creating adult cases of Spring Fever. Allergies, changes in weather and routine, and even worrying about the fit of one’s spring wardrobe can impact parents. Being aware that the adult form of Spring Fever may manifest itself as having less patience, understanding, or time to spend with a child allows each of us to make allowances to address this sort of concern.
Finally, sometimes Spring Fever just reflects the excitement a child feels at the thought of spending days outside engaged in creative play, recreational activities, or relaxing with family and friends. It is then simply an opportunity for parents and early childhood educators to help children to practice living in the moment and focusing on enjoying what they are doing right now.
To learn more about how to monitor children’s mental health, please CLICK HERE to register for our complimentary “Supporting the Mental Health of Children” course online, available to take at your own leisure.